Thursday, May 22, 2008

SIMPLE GIFTS: Will the “Culture of Profit” mar Embryo Adoption?

Simple Gifts

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight
'Till by turning, turning we come round right.

I hope the pervasive “Culture of Profit” that characterizes international and private domestic adoption will not mar the brave new world of Embryo Adoption. In a post earlier this week, I commented that greed and corruption have all but brought international adoption to a grinding halt. A lawyer in one sending country was asked, "Why do you charge so much for your services?"

"Because I can," he answered simply.

Hopefully basic supply and demand economics will not drive up the costs in embryo adoption which, to date, have been reasonable within the adoption portion of the total process. The medical costs inherent in IVF borne by the donor family are high, and often covered by insurance companies. The embryo transfer by the recipient family may also be covered by medical insurance. The recipient family also foots the cost of obtaining a homestudy, counseling, preparatory education and support and related legal costs through a licensed adoption agency or a lawyer.

Sarah-Vaughan Brakman, ethicist at Villanova, notes several ethical issues raised by embryo adoption that are also shared by other forms of assisted reproductive technology and by traditional infant adoption. These include: permissibility of the practice; payment for the embryos; who decides which embryos are given to which couples and on what basis; screening of donors, embryos and recipients; genetic disclosure to recipient couples; privacy and disclosure to children; anonymous recordkeeping, and future relationships between genetic and rearing families.

There is one ethical issue that all seem to agree on, and that is that paying the donor couple for the embryo itself crosses a line---ethically and legally. I can only hope that the "simple gift" of one donor family to another longing to parent will remain, as the Shaker song suggest, "true simplicity."